Our event of the day is the European Rugby Champions Cup final between Saracens and Leinster at St James’ Park in Newcastle. Two of the best teams in Europe will go head to head today in the premier club rugby tournament. Leinster are the defending tournament champions while Saracens have won two of the last three tournaments. This is a match you will not want to miss. Today’s final pits the defending champions against the winners of two of the last three tournaments. Leinster, the Irish powerhouse, will be eager to become the most successful team in the history of the Champions Cup. They are tied with Toulouse for the most Champions Cup titles, with four. Working in their favour is the fact that they have never lost a final appearance. Leinster has once again had an excellent season overall. They were the best team for most of the Pro14 season until a late season slump meant that they finished top of Conference B, but third terms of points behind Glasgow Warriors and Munster.
However, they have not had that problem in the Champions Cup. After topping Pool 1, they pulled off a second half comeback to beat Ulster in the quarterfinals before dominating their rivals Toulouse 30-12 in the semifinals. Standing between them and their fifth Champions Cup are Saracens, the winners of the 2015-16 and 2016-17 Champions Cup. The English side are the number one seed in the knockout stages of the Champions Cup after going 6-0 in the group stage. That was followed by a dominant 56-27 quarter-final over Glasgow and a 32-16 win over Munster in the semifinals. Saracens have been locked in a much different league battle to Leinster, always sitting just out of reach of league-leading Exeter Chiefs as the two sides fight for the top seeding come the Gallagher Premiership playoffs. It is widely expected that this final will be a brutal, unforgiving affair. Both teams excel at staunch defence and fast break offense, meaning today’s match will truly see an unstoppable force clash with an immovable object. Many of the players will be familiar with each other, given that the two teams met in the quarterfinals of last season’s competition. With two dynamic teams, and arguably the two best teams in Europe, playing today, this is a final you will not want to miss.
Honourable mentions around the globe go to the start of the Giro d’Italia. Today sees the first individual time trial event prior to the race proper beginning on Sunday. Riders will compete for the best time today on a five mile course from Bologna to the San Luca Monastery above the city. Be sure you don’t miss the start of the first Grand Tour of the 2019 cycling season. Elsewhere, in the NHL, the San Jose Sharks host the St. Louis Blues at the SAP Center for game 1 of the Western Conference finals. This is a rematch of the of the 2015-16 Western Conference Finals and the first conference finals appearance for either team since then. While both teams were considered playoff contenders this season, they have probably gone beyond their expectations reaching this stage of the season. This is an exciting playoff series that is sure to be unforgettable. The EFL Championship play-off semi-final first legs take place today, with Aston Villa hosting West Brom at Villa Park and Derby hosting Leeds at Pride Park. England host Pakistan at the Rose Bowl for thesecond ODI of their five match series, the first game at the Oval on Wednesday was cancelled due to bad weather.
Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by Saracens; Leinster
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